News regarding the dangers of GMOs and biotech, and the advantages of organic sustainable agriculture.
The recent Monsanto-Bayer merger has been approved by both American and European continent authorities, merging two of the world's top seed biotech companies and producers of genetically modified seeds. Bayer, a company based out of Germany, is a name most often associated with aspirin in the United States and around the world. But even before this merger, they already hold a huge market share of seed production. Bayer is somewhat constrained in developing their GMO products, as Germany bans the cultivation of GMO crops. Most of Bayer's GMO development is done in the USA, and by purchasing Monsanto, they will become, by far, the largest GMO company in the world. This has prompted some to refer to the Bayer-Monsanto merger as "A Marriage Made in Hell."
African Use of Ants and Intercropping to Fight Armyworm Pests in Corn Crops More Effective than GMOs
Recently GMWatch reported on attempts by the GMO lobby to persuade African countries to accept GM Bt maize to fight the fall armyworm pest, which is spreading across the continent and ravaging maize crops. But the lobbyists omitted to mention that GM Bt insecticidal maize targeting the fall armyworm has already failed in different regions due to pests becoming resistant to the GM Bt toxins in the crop. The lobbyists also ignored the fact that agroecological methods, such as attracting ants to feed on armyworm eggs, are proving successful. Now we've been alerted to another agroecological and non-GMO method that is working well in Africa as a defence against the fall armyworm. The method, a climate-adapted version of Push-Pull, is being spearheaded by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), a multinational government-funded organisation that supports poverty alleviation and food security.
A local private buying club in Minneapolis, known as Uptown Locavore, was raided and shut down by the Health Department earlier this month (May, 2018). Even though there were apparently no complaints, and no one reporting any illness due to the food being sold in this private market, the city of Minneapolis decided to shut them down, stating that they did not have proper retail licenses, and that some of their food was "dangerous" because they were selling fresh raw milk and meat that had not been USDA inspected, according to ABC 5 KSTP. Will Winter, the owner of the market, links members of his buyer's club with up to 50 different farmers. He disagrees that the club was operating illegally without licenses, because it is not a retail store, but a private club. "The reason this is legal is it's a private transaction between consenting adults... Never a complaint, never made anyone sick, never had any questions about our food."
A California Superior Court ruled last week that a man dying of cancer, who is suing Monsanto, can present evidence that Monsanto covered up research linking glyphosate to cancer. Glyphosate is the main ingredient in Roundup, the world's most prevalent herbicide used in agriculture, that has been found in 93% of Americans' urine, most mothers' breast milk, and is probably residing inside of every person alive on planet Earth. Provided that the trial will go forward without any more legal maneuvering by Monsanto, 46-year-old DeWayne Johnson, who has terminal cancer and only months left to live, will take the stand against Monsanto in a California court on June 18, in what is being called a "Landmark Lawsuit." Last week Judge Curtis Karnow issued an order clearing the way for jurors to consider not just scientific evidence related to what caused Johnson’s cancer, but allegations that Monsanto suppressed evidence of the risks of its weed killing products. Karnow ruled that the trial will proceed and a jury would be allowed to consider possible punitive damages. There are more than 4,000 other cancer victims who have filed lawsuits against Monsanto since the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published a report linking glyphosate to non-Hodgkin lymphoma back in 2015. Therefore, should this case actually make it to trial, and DeWayne Johnson gets his day in court before a jury, it could set quite a precedent.
Glyphosate-based herbicide caused adverse health effects in rats at a dose claimed to be safe by regulators, according to a new study. Glyphosate herbicides are used on the vast majority of all GM crops worldwide. The study used the US Environmental Protection Agency’s acceptable daily dietary exposure level of glyphosate – 1.75 mg per kg of bodyweight per day. The same concentration was given to the rats daily over a 3-month period. The study was focused on the newborn, infancy and adolescence phases of life. The results reveal that glyphosate-based herbicide (GBH) was able to alter certain important biological parameters, mainly relating to sexual development, genotoxicity, and the intestinal microbiome. The effects occurred at a dose deemed safe by regulators to ingest on a daily basis over a long-term period. In human-equivalent terms the dosing period corresponded to the period from the embryo stage to 18 years of age.
People living in an Argentine town in the heart of the GM soy and maize growing area suffer miscarriages at three times and birth defects at twice the national average rate, a new study shows. In addition, the study found a correlation between a high environmental exposure to glyphosate and an increased frequency of reproductive disorders (miscarriage and birth defects).
The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public input on the health impacts of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. But despite mounting evidence, the EPA continues to ignore glyphosate’s hazards, and it looks like Monsanto’s under-the-table influence may be a reason why. Monsanto has launched a campaign to pressure the EPA into declaring glyphosate safe. It is terrified of losing the profits from selling this ubiquitous herbicide. The use of glyphosate on U.S. farmland has exploded in recent years. A recent study found that Americans’ exposure to the pesticide has increased fivefold since it was first introduced more than 20 years ago.
Research from China has revealed a new dimension in environmental risk posed by GM plants: additionally inserted genes can enhance the potential for uncontrolled spread into the environment. There is now evidence to show that this is the case for glyphosate-tolerant plants. Where there is gene flow from the plants into the natural populations, the offspring will have increased fitness and can spread their transgenic DNA more effectively than assumed. Glyphosate-tolerant GM plants have been grown commercially for more than 20 years and are the most commonly grown GM plants worldwide. Nevertheless, their high potential for uncontrolled spread has so far not been investigated in detail in any official risk assessment. There are some previous findings showing enhanced fitness of transgenic plants. Especially GM oilseed rape and rice have several times succeeded in introgressing natural populations. Contrary to expectations, the resulting transgenic offspring very often persisted in the environment and continued to propagate. Chinese researchers have clearly shown that even in a glyphosate-free environment higher fitness does occur. They are demanding that further studies should be conducted, including the hybrid descendants of transgenic crops, to thoroughly assess the ecological impact.
GM Arctic apples are being sold on Amazon without disclosing that they are GM. They are engineered not to brown when cut and thus are advertised as "preservative free". GM Arctic apples are engineered using a gene-silencing technique called RNAi or RNA interference. Independent scientists warn that products engineered using RNAi might silence the genes or otherwise affect the gene expression of non-target organisms. In this case, non-target organisms include humans who eat the apples. The Arctic apple was developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, which was acquired in 2015 by biotech company Intrexon. Intrexon also owns the GM salmon firm AquaBounty.
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